Image shows a help wanted sign to illustrate tips to publish your self-help book

Thinking of publishing a self-help book? You’re not alone. According to Words Rated, 15,000 new self-help titles hit the shelf every year. Why? Because personal development is big business. Hence why readers buy 10 million of these helpful books every year.

Whether you’re aiming for traditional publishers or prefer to be an independent author, here are tips to get your book in readers’ hands.

1. Know Your Subject

This seems obvious, but many self-published authors produce nonfiction books that make big promises and fulfill none of them. Your book shouldn’t be one of them.

To avoid this downfall, know your topic. Otherwise, you have little to offer your audience.

Remember—self-help readers want your book to change their lives. Fill your book with helpful information to make that possible.

Once you know the topic inside and out, you’re ready to forge ahead with writing and publishing.

Note: Feel you don’t know enough to author a book? If your friends keep telling you otherwise, listen to them. It’s common for experts to feel inadequate. Because they know how deep and wide their field is, experts know how much they don’t know. Don’t use this as a reason not to publish your book.

2. Identify Your Audience

When writing your self-help book, keep your target audience in mind. Who needs your expertise the most? That is who you’re writing for.

While determining your audience, be as specific as you can. Don’t expect everyone in the world to need your book. Every book is aimed at a particular group of people who read nonfiction books. 

Targeted audiences include the following:

  • Aging musicians coming to terms with a lifestyle that doesn’t involve touring
  • Burned out corporate employees entering a trade field for the first time
  • New mothers who feel pressured to stay at home after giving birth (or feel pressured to return to work)
  • People who want to understand finances (author Lynn McCarty‘s people)
  • Police officers or firefighters eager to maintain good mental health
  • Serial entrepreneurs who never stick with a new business long enough to turn a profit

By defining your audience, you can picture them as you write. This helps you evaluate every sentence to make sure it meets your audience’s needs. You can then tailor your content to resonate with them.  

3. Say Something Different (or in a Different Way)

Hundreds of years after the printing press was created, new people continue to publish self-help books and make book sales. Could you be one of those success stories? Why not?

The road to self-help success starts with your book idea. But the initial idea isn’t enough. To get your book ready for readers, you need to say something different. Your book should present new information not offered in other books.

Doing this requires you to know what’s already been said in your area of expertise. If you aren’t well versed in what others have already said, you may repeat they said. This turns off potential readers. It also leads to negative book reviews. So, study your field to make sure what you’re saying needs to be said.

Has everything already been said in your sphere? There is still a place for your book. All you must do is make it fresh. Say it again in your own writing style. When you do, mention who else has said the same thing. This proves you pay attention to your field and give you instant credibility.

Just remember—passing off others’ ideas as your own is plagiarism. So, give credit where it’s due, and cite your sources.

4. Outline Carefully When Publishing Self-Help

In fiction, characters and character development dictate what happens. There is no need to relay the story as it happens, because the story takes place in your head. You determine what happens.

Writing personal development and other nonfiction books is a different beast. You must stick to the facts and move through those facts in a logical manner. An outline help you do that and keeps you on track.

Of course, some talented authors can create self-help books without an outline, but those authors are the exception. Map out where you want to go, and you’ll produce a quality book that passes the test of time. Write by the seat of your pants, and you may notice holes in your book after publication.

Bonus: An outline takes the guesswork out of what to write next. This frees your brain up to focus on producing content that is as engaging as your eye-catching cover.

5. Make Every Page Count

In the self-help world, there’s a lot of repetition. In fact, there’s so much that many readers put down self-help titles before reaching the end. Or they skim the table of contents to see what chapters to read and which to avoid.

Want readers to read your entire book? Keep your book as short as possible, as long as necessary, and crammed with life-changing information.

Don’t worry—you don’t have to strip your manuscript down to a pamphlet-sized document. It’s fine to use a wide variety of personal anecdotes and stories. After all, readers buy your book because of your expertise. They want to hear your perspective. Just make sure every story, page, paragraph, and sentence aid in the personal development of your target audience.

If you find fat in your manuscript, trim it out before you create a book proposal or query letter. Being concise will make your book stand out. With 15,000 traditional and indie authors publishing self-help books this year, standing out is more important than ever.

6. Know Your Options for Publishing a Self-Help Book

When it comes to publishing your self-help book, you’ve got options, and each produces bestselling books.

Your publishing options include:

  • Traditional publishing. You submit your book to a literary agent, who are traditional publishing gatekeepers. If the agent agrees to represent you, the agent pitches your manuscript to publishing houses. When a publishing house buys your book, the real fun begins. This process can take months or years. For none, traditional publishing plans never comes to fruition.
  • Self-publishing. You do all the editing, design, and layout of your book. Then you use a self-publishing platform, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or IngramSpark to print and distribute your book. (Note: If you hope to get your book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, don’t use KDP. Most chain and independent bookstores won’t stock your book if published through KDP, as Amazon is their direct competition.)
  • Independent publishers. Some call these companies hybrid publishers or self-publishing companies. Whatever you call them, they’re basically partners in your publishing journey. They typically handle book editing, layout, design, and more. With these publishers, you retain more creative control than traditional publishing allows. There are upfront costs, but when you finish the publishing process, you have a new income stream. Some indie book publishers, such as Argyle Fox Publishing, give you complete control over the process and all profits of your book sales.

Need help publishing your self-help book? You’ve come to the right place. If you’re ready for your book to changes lives, submit your manuscript to Argyle Fox Publishing for consideration.